Learning to deal effectively with people is one of the keys to success. Whether in leadership, sales, service or supervision, your ability to persuade, win confidence, gain respect and motivate others will largely determine your level of success.
The challenge is that everybody is wired differently, no approach works universally and success depends more on who they are than who you are.
Dealing with people is an art practiced over a lifetime, but there are some shortcuts.
We’re all not as different as you might think. In fact, there’s a number of personality test available that group personality types into four main categories. While these are likely a gross over simplification of human nature, it’s a place to start.
The DiSC behavior assessment, Predictive Index and Keirsey Temperament Sorter are just a few of the personality tests available out there; many more exist. Some of these describe the types in animalistic terms—these make the concepts easy to understand and appreciate. I recently heard a comparison to birds, which made the types easy to picture. Here are some examples:
Eagles are dominant, results oriented, natural leaders, brisk and to the point. When dealing with eagles, don’t bury them in data; they don’t have the patience for it. Get to the bottom line. Don’t be overly concerned with their emotional state. They’re more into facts, results and logistics, and less concerned about their feelings—or yours.
Doves are the peacemakers. They want to see people get along. They like to please, get things done and are great team players. When dealing with doves, change, risk and confrontation are not likely to win the day. They’re going to be much more inclined to follow solutions leading to harmony that “everybody can feel good about.”
Owls are analytical, detail oriented, methodical and perfectionist. Owls can make great accountants and engineers. When dealing with owls, make sure the math adds up and provide the detail. Also, give owls time to make decisions and be prepared to answer their questions.
Roosters are passionate, enthusiastic, optimistic people who can be very persuasive and engaging, especially when the conversation is about them. Complement roosters, make them the center of attention, and they’ll stay firmly in your camp.
How do you know which type you’re dealing with?
If you’re in a leadership or supervisory position, you can test your subordinates to discover their personality tendencies and know better how to deal with them, keeping in mind that’s it’s not your style that matters. It’s theirs. A number of personality test are available online; most are relatively inexpensive.
If you’re in sales or customer service, you don’t have the luxury of testing your clients and prospects. However, a few open-ended question can help. For instance, “What’s important to you about our service/this project?”
Here’s how they’ll answer:
- Eagles: the results;
- Doves: the relationship;
- Owls; the details; and
- Roosters: Me!
What asked, “What’s the best way to communicate with you?” they’ll say:
- Eagles: email or phone call;
- Doves: whatever is easiest for you;
- Owls: emails; and
- Roosters: Let’s meet!
As for the question, “Who will be making the decision?”
- Eagles: I will;
- Doves: My group will be reviewing it;
- Owls: We’ll review the information and let you know; and
- Roosters: Not sure. I’ll let you know.
I’m sure you can think of other questions. They don’t even have to be work related. The point is that eagles are direct and bottom line oriented, doves will look after the interest of the groups, owls are into analysis, and roosters are more social.
So, what are you?
In the end, it’s just as important to understand your own personality type as it is the personality types of your co-workers and customers. We all have a natural tendency toward either people or things, results or harmony, numbers or relationships.
Knowing your native strengths tells what you you’re good at so you can try to spend more time doing it, and what you’re not good at so that you can try to delegate those tasks. This knowledge also lets you appreciate others more. Eagles need doves and owls need roosters. Without them, there’s a big gap in the organization. Understanding who you are and who you’re not is liberating, powerful and helpful in your ability to persuade, win confidence, gain respect, motivate and win.